Saturday, April 11, 2015

Why Are We Poor?

Image result for poor filipino
Filipino children grow in numbers like rabbits. thanks
but no thanks to the activist stance of the Roman
Catholic church on pressuring the threatened
 government not to promote artificial birth
control methods. Birth control pills, condoms,
others were given free during the authori-
tarian rule of then President Ferdinand Marcos.


By Antonio C. Abaya

But, to get back to the original question, why are we poor?

Sionil Jose says that �we are poor because we have lost our ethical moorings, this in spite of those massive religious rallies of El Shaddai, those neo-gothic churches of the Iglesia ni Cristo sprouting all over the country, in spite of nearly 400 years of Catholic evangelization...�

�We are poor because we are not moral. Can this immorality as evidenced by widespread corruption be quantified? Yes, about P20 billion a year is lost, according to NGO estimates.

�We are poor because we have no sense of history, and therefore, no sense of nation. The nationalism that was preached to my generation by Claro M. Recto and Lorenzo Ta�ada was phony...

�We are poor because our elite from way back had no sense of nation � they collaborated with whoever ruled � the Spaniards, the Japanese, the Americans and, in recent times, Marcos. Our elite imbibed the values of the colonizer...�

Here I disagree with Sionil Jose. To explain an economic phenomenon like poverty, one must look for economic reasons, not moral or political or ideological ones. To put it simply and bluntly, we are poor because our economy did not and does not generate enough jobs for those who need and want to work. Why our economy did not do so and does not do so can best be explained by six economic reasons:

One. In the mid-1950s, our minimum wage law came into effect. When American firms started to move their manufacturing activities to the Far East in the 1960s, they put up most of their factories in Taiwan and Hong Kong, not in the Philippines, even though most Filipino workers could understand some English (most Chinese then could not), and even though Filipino managers were familiar with American business practices (while most Chinese then were not).

The compelling reason for choosing Taiwan and Hong Kong over the Philippines was: wages then were lower there, and there was no minimum wage law there either. So even though the Philippines enjoyed the second highest standard of living in Asia next to Japan up to the late 1960s, we began to lose that lead to Taiwan and Hong Kong in the 1970s.

Two. In the 1970s, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore deliberately geared their economies to the export of manufactured goods. In the 1980s, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia followed their lead. The growth of export industries created jobs, jobs, jobs, which in turn stimulated the growth of manufacturing industries for the domestic markets, which created more jobs, jobs, jobs. This propelled Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia to overtake us in the 1980s.

The Philippines did not seriously pursue an export-oriented strategy until the 1990s, under President Ramos, but by that time the global marketplace had become over-crowded with the entry of the People�s Republic of China. In the 1970s, President Marcos tried to join the export race, but this was opposed by communist high priests Renato Constantino Sr., Edberto Villegas, Walden Bello and Horacio Morales and their acolyte Conrado de Quiroz, and was deliberately sabotaged by KMU communist labor militants.

In 1965, when East Asia was exporting only commodities, the resource-rich Philippines� total exports amounted to $769 million, while resource-poor South Korea and Taiwan exported only $175 million and $446 million, respectively.

In 2001, after 30 years of manufacturing-for-export, South Korea�s and Taiwan�s exports reached $159 billion and $122 billion, respectively, while the late-coming Philippines� totaled only $37 billion.

So in those 36 years, South Korea�s and Taiwan�s exports grew 908-fold and 276-fold, while ours grew only 48-fold. I leave it to others to calculate how many million jobs we lost by default for not pursuing more vigorously a manufacturing-for-export strategy. Three. Having been left behind by the export bus, we also missed the tourism bus. In 1991, the Philippines and Indonesia drew in the same number of foreign tourists: one million. In 2004, or 13 years later, the Philippines is still struggling to attract 2.5 million, while Indonesia is expected to draw in six million, despite the Bali bombing in October 2002. This year, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia are expected to attract 10 to 12 million tourists. Again, I leave it to others to calculate how many million jobs we have lost by default for being such an unattractive place to visit.

Several reasons account for our poor image, the most prominent being: political instability due to coup attempts by Gringo Honasan, kidnappings by the Abu Sayyaf, terrorism by Muslim secessionists, endless insurgency by the NPA. Take your pick.

Four. Having failed to develop a wide manufacturing base during the export boom of the �70s and �80s, the Philippines under President Ramos foolishly embraced free trade and globalization, even earlier and more enthusiastically than much more highly developed Taiwan and South Korea, opening the economy to the products of more industrialized countries, thus sealing the fate of our struggling domestic producers. No wonder an average of 3,500 Filipinos leave these shores every day for jobs abroad that they cannot find here.

Five. As ideologically committed as President Ramos was to free trade and globalization, President Arroyo maintains a bias against manufacturing, preferring to concentrate on agriculture, telecommunications and tourism (kuno). She does not buy the rule-of-thumb that I tried to sell to her: that a hectare of agricultural land, planted to rice or corn, cannot sustain one family for one year; while that hectare of agricultural land, if converted to a manufacturing zone, can sustain hundreds of families. And I thought my logic was unassailable.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Lessons SAF could learn from the U.S Navy SEAL


The Mamasapano, Maguindano operation by the Special Action Force (SAF) was an almost botched raid. Its saving grace, thanks to the U.S Global Positioning Satellite (GPS), CIA's mole in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, drone, and night vision goggles, was the finding, killing, and photo taking of Malaysian bomb maker, Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, and cutting off one of his right fingers for DNA processing by the Americans. 
United States' Elite Navy SEAL (Sea, Air, Land) 
Photo Credit: www.
Marwan, considered as consummate master bomber, has a $5 million (P235 million) bounty from the U.S State Department.
Likewise, the strategy employed in the Mamasapano (geez, I used to jog in the 1980s at the nearby Awang, Dinaig Airport with my military father) slaughters of the 44 British Army SAS (Special Air Service) inspired Filipinos elite SAF members could not be likened to the SEAL’s feat in Abbottabad, Pakistan where No. 1 Islamist terrorist Osama Bin Ladin perished in the double tapped bullets of the SEAL’s Heckler & Koch 416 assault rifle.
The U.S commando there were borne by two stealth UH-60 Black Hawks and two CH-47 Chinooks from  Jalalabad, Afghanistan to Pakistan while the 300 SAF traveled surreptitiously by foot through their sturdy boots to the target area.
The only stealth operation in the Philippines that until now remains unexposed was when the 1996 multi-billion pesos funds for the  AFP Modernization Act under Republic Act 7898  were pocketed by government officials during that time.
The monies used to purchase a squadron of F-16 Falcon's multi-role fighter jets, modern helicopters probably like the non-stealth UH-60 Black Hawks, frigates, tanks, others were lost after a huge chunk of the lands in Fort Bonifacio was sold by the government to the present owners of the burgeoning and bustling Global City in Taguig City. If you disagree what those scoundrels on the Bonifacio’s deal had done was stealth, then we can settle that it was a “steal” , son of a gun, in chutzpah.
SAF compared to SEAL’s Operation in Kunar Province, Afghanistan
Philippines commando's Special Action Force whose
training was inspired by the British's Special Action Services.
Photo Credit:
A good comparison to a similar Mamasapano raid and the SEAL operation would be the SEAL Team 6 (yes, Virginia the same group that swooped at the lair of Bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan) in the late 2000s in the inhospitable mountain of Kunar Province in Afghanistan.
In the book No Easy Day: The Autobiography of a Navy SEAL as told by Mark Owen, who was part of SEAL Team Six that killed Osama Bin Laden, he said when his squad was transported from their base in the U.S mainland by a Boeing C-17 Globe Master III to a military base in Germany, flown again by another transport jet to a U.S Bagram Air Base in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, and transported again by the CH-47 Chinook they called "school bus" to a fire base in Kunar Province,  they spent a day with the Army Rangers there by asking them the nuances of the inhospitable high mountain areas where the Taliban and Al Quida fighters were ensconced in buildings made of mud. Owen said the Islamist fighters there who live 7 kilometers away in rough and tall elevated mountains, have been ambushing and attacking the rangers.
Garbed in shabby camouflage  that don’t even pair with each others SEAL's dress and pants, where some of them don’t wear bullet proof plates, brandishing their German made Heckler & Koch MP7 with suppressors (or silencers, to the jeepney and construction workers who read this article), highly modified M79 40 mm grenade launchers they called “pirate gun”, Heckler & Koch 416 assault rifles with a ten-inch barrel and suppressors, M4A1 5.56 mm rifle (that looks like our "obsolete" Baby Armalite in the Philippines), others, the squad of long haired and unshaven SEAL Team - 6  avoid the road by melting away from the Ranger who did a regular patrol on the road at the wee hours of darkness, climbed by using their hands and feet the mountains slope, ridges, and cliff to locate the goat trails the drone took picture, walked the 7 kilometers, where the rangers told them they only reached half of it as they were  ambushed by the enemies, paced through the help of their night vision goggle the rough trail and  reach the target area.  By carefully peering at the hole, they shot to death the enemies with their automatic weapons suppressed by silencers. SEAL Snipers picked up, too, the rescuing guards nearby; while the four turbo prop powered AC-130 with its night vision goggled pilots emerged like a specter from somewhere and mowed  with their GE M134 Mini-guns and 20mm canons the reinforcements of the Taliban from the nearby areas.
SAF Lacks the Strategy and the Air Support given to the SEAL